Okay, so there’s this kid from Oakland right. He happens to play basketball and turns out to be an okay player. Decides he’s going to play his college ball somewhere in Ogden, Utah. Place called Weber State, ever heard of it? Me neither. Long story short, he goes from Big Sky Conference Freshman of the Year in 2008 averaging 11.5 ppg, to nearly leading the NCAA in scoring (24.5 ppg) in 2011. Might I add he dropped 41 points to lead his team to victory in OT against San Diego State. Next thing you know, we hear (David Stern voice) “And with the sixth pick of the 2012 NBA draft, the Portland Trailblazers select..Damian Lillard from Weber State University (claps, claps).
Meet Damian Lillard. 6’3″ rookie point guard for the Portland Trailblazers who was recently named Co-MVP in this years NBA Summer League. Averaging 26.5 points, 4 rebounds and over 5 assists a game, Lillard has proven he was worthy of being a top ten pick. His future looks promising..but this is the Blazers we’re talking about; we’ve said that before. Flashback to 2004 when the Blazers drafted Sebastian Telfair 13th overall. Or in 2007 when they passed on Kevin Durant and took Greg Oden number 1. That one hurts..but this time I think they may have finally gotten it right. In this years draft, Portland managed to pick up Damian Lillard 6th overall, 7’1″ Center Myles Leonard (Illinois) 11th and 6’6″ SG Will Barton (Memphis) 40th overall. In Lillard you’ve got a guy who has proved himself at the college level as both a scorer and a leader. Plus, he’s 22. Sebastian was what, 12? And I don’t think they’ll regret drafting Myles Leonard or Will Barton. They possess great size and versatility at their positions. Leonard is a unique big with passing ability and underrated athleticism. And despite people calling Will Barton is a tweener, we know he can fill it up from anywhere. Think Corey Brewer. We’ll see what happens, they both played well.
It isn’t easy to determine how well a player will perform solely based on Summer League. Let’s be honest, in Summer League most of the players on the court will most likely be cut from their respective team. Think of it as running 5’s in tryouts. Memories. But then again there are those players who rise well above the competition. Playing as if to say “Coach, get me out of here. It’s too easy.” These are the players who end up making an NBA squad/bench. Others trickle down in places we call the D-League, CBA, ABA and International ball. But don’t sleep. Good players come from all of these places as well.
As for Lillard, look for him to become solid contributor for Portland. His explosiveness as a penetrator will transfer on to the NBA hardwood. They say scorers have the easiest adjustment to the League right? And he rebounds, how many PG scouting reports say that. Best thing is, he’s a more than willing passer and loves to get everyone involved. Portland you got one. An exciting player who may even crack the starting lineup this season. Jonny Flynn, Nolan Smith watch out. This kid want’s to play, he’s got doubters to silence and he can only do that on the court. Remember the name, you’ll be sure to hear it again and again.
Follow Damian Lillard on Twitter @Dame_Lillard